Reading race | A translingual task

Translanguaging reading race.png

This task is inspired by Listen and Find, an activity from Deller and Rinvolucri’s Using the Mother Tongue (2007). A lot of Indian teachers like many of their peers around the world are constrained in terms of what they can do in the classroom because they need to follow textbooks. This simple task offers a translingual tweak to exploring vocabulary within existing textbook passages. I’ve used an online text on Internet safety for kids as an example but you could use any level-appropriate text.

For more information on translanguaging, read the first post in this series.


  • Introduce or review vocabulary within a text
  • Encourage learners to use their home language to understand lexis in English
  • Maximise communicative potential through translanguaging.


  • Select an English text that the learners can access either as a print-out or in their textbooks. With older learners, try Whatsapping short texts or infographics and having them do the activity using their phones.
  • Choose lexical items from this text and and come up with a list of translations in the learners’ home languages. Put these on a slide as animated bullets or on stick-ups or by writing them on the board before the lesson and hiding them with a flipchart.


  • Start with an appropriate discussion question to lead into the topic of the text. This can be done in the learners’ home language and using a combination of languages based on their level.

Translanguaging task 

  • Ask learners to keep the text open in front of them and have a pencil handy.
  • Display the first word in the learners’ home languages. Ask them to find the word in the text as quickly as possible and underline it.
  • When they’ve finished underlining the word, they must say ‘bingo’ and raise their hand.
  • Explore meaning, pronunciation and/or form before proceeding to the next lexical item.

An example

I ran this activity recently with this text with words in Kannada, Hindi and Marathi.

Translanguaging text.jpg

Words for the reading race (Kannada / Hindi / Marathi)

A. ಪೋಷಕರು / माता-पिता / पालक

B. ಅಡ್ಡಹೆಸರು / उपनाम / टोपणनाव

C. ನಯವಾದ  / भद्र / विनम्र

D. ಮಾಹಿತಿ / जानकारी / माहिती


A. Parents

B. Nickname

C. Polite

D. Information

You can then focus on meaning by contrasting similarities or differences. For example, in Kannada, ಪೋಷಕರು means parents but it also means guardians whereas the word guardian implies something different in English.

Extension task

  • Give the learners an interesting question to discuss based on the text. Ask them to talk in their home language but using the English words they found and explored in the reading race.


  • Deller, S. & Rinvolucri, M. (2007) Using the Mother Tongue. Viva.

4 Replies to “Reading race | A translingual task”

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